CycleSheffield objection to PLANNING APPLICATION 14/00709/FUL
CycleSheffield will be writing to both SIV and Sheffield City Trust about this application. We think that there has been little consideration for people who would want to walk or cycle to the site. This is ironic in a planning application for a leisure centre that seeks to encourage an active lifestyle.
We don’t object to the application in principle. At this stage and with this part of the process we object to the application on the following technical grounds.
We have been and surveyed the site.
Our survey is on a Google map.
View Graves Leisure Centre Cycling infrastructure in a larger map
We ask the planners and committee members to look at the map we have drawn which shows a far greater extent of signed, advisory and possible cycling routes and much better connections to the site for a bicycle from Jordanthorpe, Batemoor, Lowedges, Greenhill, Meadowhead, Norton, Hemsworth, Coal Aston and these routes touch on Bradway, Dronfield, Meersbrook and Woodseats. All of which are far more residential districts than specified in the same isochrone as drawn by Arup.
Arup say, The residential areas of Norton, Greenhill, Woodseats and parts of Dronfield and Bradway are within 5km from the site, suggesting that residents within these areas could cycle to the site. There are no cycle paths located adjacent to the Site. The nearest cycle route is located on Norton Lane. This route terminates north of Heeley on Gleadless Road. This route is mostly on-road
Their specification of residential areas is limited and ignores Jordanthrope, Batemoor, and Lowedges.
Their statement about cycle routes is not true.
It does not consider that there are two toucan crossings from Norton to the south side of Bochum Parkway
and a good shared use path on the south side from Meadowhall roundabout to and across Dyche Lane that Arup haven’t even noted – along with other details not noted.
There is a cycle path along Dyche Lane up to the entrance to Meadowhead School which becomes a footway alongside Dyche Lane.
We are concerned that the present survey has not properly surveyed cycling facilities or considered cycling as a realistic way of getting to the site. We think cycling as a mode of transport that will not be encouraged and its growth hindered by the current plan.
The new entrance has a 40m long slip road for vehicles turning in to the site. We are concerned that cyclists carrying straight on the Bochum Parkway alongside this slip road may be cut up on this and would think an advisory cycle lane along here may provide some warning for motorists and protection for cyclists.
The exit seems to go straight on to Bochum Parkway and we think a cycle lane here may help cyclists access Bochum Parkway.
Neither entrance nor exit have a dedicated cycle lane to separate vehicles and cycles entering the site.
We understand that planning applications need to consider access to the site and we believe that there is a simple and inexpensive (compared to the total cost) solution to providing good access for bikes which could provide cycles with access that separates bikes from Bochum Parkway. It is important to separate cycle and vehicles on higher-speed, denser-traffic roads.
The present shared use path along Bochum Parkway reaches the east side of Dyche Lane.
The footway continues from this shared use path along Bochum Parkway and then turns right and continues as a paved, lit footway parallel to Jordanthorpe Parkway to provide access to the housing and streets there. (Coloured pink on our map). This shared use path could then continue north using the subway under Bochum Parkway to provide access to Norton Lane.
We suggest that this could and should be made into a shared use path for both cyclists and pedestrians to both the proposed entrance and the exit and this development and change of use should be a condition of the planning permissions
The Arup survey notes a path at the ‘back’ of the site connecting to Hazelbarrow Drive. This will need upgrading to make it suitable to be used by pedestrians.
It has barriers which would limit access for disabled people and it is not paved or lit for a short stretch across open ground. At present the spot is used for fly-tipping. This also could be upgraded to a shared use path for cyclists and pedestrians.
In addition there is currently a gap that provides ‘unofficial’ but free and open access to the site from Hazelbarrow Drive. Consideration should be given to making this gap a cycletrack & footway into the site as it would allow access from both footway and carriageway on Hazelbarrow Drive.
[We do note that the cycle stands are near the entrance (so within oversight) and covered. Good. We are disappointed that there are only 10 stands (enough for 20 bikes) and in light of the need for more people to cycle we would argue that 20 covered cycle stands should be provided – which would provide space for 40 bikes – NB the site hosts the cycle speedway track for Sheffield Stars]
We also surveyed access to the site for pedestrians. (What suits pedestrians often suits cyclists). Our survey of pedestrian routes is on the Google map below
Our points about rear access are not noted and the connectivity for residents in Jordanthorpe, Batemoor and Lowedges are not mentioned because these residential districts are not even mentioned.
In addition there is no marked footway into the site on the entrance drawings from the footways at the entrance across the car park to the main doors at the leisure centre – cars will be turning off and coming into the car park and peds will have to be walking across these routes to get to parking.
We object to this planning application on the grounds that the surveys are inadequate as is the planning for access for pedestrians and bikes.
We would also state that it is much easier to upgrade facilities at the time of development rather than retrofit them – which seems to be the intention in the Travel Plan.
We would also expect the client SIV to take a longer view and they should be expecting more visitors by bike, given that:
Meadowhead roundabout will be more cycle-friendly when it is finished,
cycle lanes are going in on the A61 between Bowshaw and Meadowhead (the CTC Right to Ride rep I have forcefully made the case that there should be off-road provision along here) ,
the eventual re-development of the Norton Aerodrome site should provide an off-road route along this section of the outer ring road (I think the on-road cycle lanes on the ORR further north can be deemed to have failed)
the Sheffield-Chesterfield bike route is creeping towards completion (new bits alongside the A61 in Chesterfield)
So there will be plenty of increased provision for cyclists but SIV may well have developed a leisure centre site that would have to expensively adapt again to respond – far better to do it now.
We re-iterate our objections on the grounds that the surveys are inadequate because they miss significant details and ignore simple opportunities.
We also object on the grounds of air quality. The figures for air pollution at Meadowhead show that air pollution is below the allowed limit – however cars have to get to the Graves Leisure Centre and we note that the air pollution data on Chesterfield Rd through Woodseats and up to Meadowhead are either over or frequently touch on the air pollution limit. Sheffield needs to do everything to lower air pollution and improve air quality. SCC need no reminding that according to their own Director of Public Health there are 500 preventable deaths pa in Sheffield attributable to poor air quality. The city has to stop the growth in car traffic and encourage people to use public transport or walk and cycle when they can.
In support of our objection on the grounds of the travel plan does not do enough to reduce air quality CycleSheffield note that the assessment and survey done by Arup did consider Air Quality but it doesn’t reference AQAP 2015 ratified by SCC Cabinet in 2012. Arup reference the Core Strategy adopted in 2009 and the UDP from 1998 although it notes that the wider Sheffield District area is unlikely to comply with EU limits without implementing the strategies recommended in this plan.
They do not seem to have used the latest policy or referenced to the sections in that on smarter travel.
We may have missed it but in all the data provided by Arup we couldn’t find a survey of how far people had traveled to get to the Graves Leisure Centre and so determine how many could walk or cycle instead of using a car. (Mind you, that maybe our lack of professional expertise but we feel it behoves the planners to explain the TRICS data in layperson’s terms).
We urge the Decisions Committee to reject this planning application and make the client reconsider and revise the travel plans and assessments and work with SCC on a plan for the small improvements for cycling that will make a big difference.
We are disappointed and surprised that SIV who have been entrusted in providing leisure and recreational facilities for the city and its citizens have not briefed the planners more imaginatively about the need to encourage and support sustainable travel for clients and staff. There are incentives (and disincentives) that could be provided but they will be the subject of a separate letter to SIV and Sheffield City Trust.